Tag Archive for eBooks

Stress Response

Terri the relentless tortoise

Stress is an actor in all our lives. As we grow up, our stress grows too. We perceive that stress as a sign that we are coping with more than our historical share. Every generation believes that their stress surpasses that of the generation before. So it is probably just an illusion — or delusion. What’s most important is how we cope with stress. Not all stress coping mechanisms are learned. Some are probably encoded — they come for free with our genetics. It can be easier to see these mechanisms in action by observing animals — particularly pets, whose behaviors we know intimately. Take, for example, two very different species that we have had as pets over the years — Terri the tortoise and Kushy the ferret. Terri comes from an ancient lineage of chelonians (Greek word for tortoise), who have walked and swam upon the Earth for hundreds of millions of years. Kushy the ferret is of the Mustelidae family — weasels and skunks. Kushy was a descendant of a domesticated breed of ferrets that first became pets about four thousand years ago. We bought Kushy at a pet store; Terri was a rescue. Terri’s natural habitat is…

Coming-of-age in the Modern World

How we see ourselves

There is a whole genre of coming-of-age stories — stories that describe a transition from childhood to adulthood. The transition could be fast, forced by some external events, or painfully slow. And sometimes, it might not happen at all — we all know people who we charitably describe as having “arrested development” issues. This is how Wikipedia defines the coming-of-age genre, too, adding: “Coming-of-age stories tend to emphasize dialogue or internal monologue over action, and are often set in the past. The subjects of coming-of-age stories are typically teenagers.” But is it correct to place teenagers as protagonists in coming-of-age books? In Victorian times (1937 to 1901), the female protagonists used to be about fifteen or sixteen — girls of marriageable age! For these children, coming-of-age meant going directly from playing with dolls and right into a marriage bed. Boys were perhaps a bit older, 17, their swords changed from wood to metal over the telling of their coming-of-age stories. Think of The Vicomte De Bragelonne or The Count of Monte Cristo, written in 1847 and 1844, respectively. The young count and Edmond were just teenagers when their stories got started. Edmond got to live to be an old man.…

Memory Strings

strings

Our lives are filled with objects and memories we collect on our journeys. It is almost like there are strings of emotions that tie us to our lives’ cabinet of curiosities. It is almost uncanny how stepping into someone’s house and seeing their possessions and their arrangement to each other tell a story of that person’s life. We can make a lot of very accurate guesses about the personalities, passions, and drives of the people by how and with what they choose to surround themselves with in their own homes. A small antique toy found in a little Paris shop, a newspaper clipping posted to the refrigerator that is a reminder of a funny incident from childhood, a giant salad bawl that had to sit on the lap for the six-hour flight home, a cute sweater that is too small but was once borrowed from a dear friend, a book that made a difference during dark times, even a little button that sits alone for over a decade waiting for the discovery of the item of clothing it belongs to — all the strange little collections of flotsams that accumulate over the course of daily living that become dear to…

2021 Self-Published Science Fiction Competition

Writing is a very solitary activity. You sit alone for hours, lost in your own thoughts, hopefully putting some words down on a page. And at some point, if you are lucky, you will finish a story you set out to write or, more accurately, you will finish a story that came out as a surprise and not at all what you expected. So far, I have managed to do this repeatedly. And some of my stories went on to win competitions. So today I will write about one such competition — the very first Self-Published Fiction Competition! 300 books. 10 blogs (judges). It will take a full year to determine one supreme winner, but a few quarter-finalists have already been selected. Yours truly has made the list of quarter-finalists with Harvest. You can read more about books from my block of Book Blog of Judges at Tar Vol on. The SPSFC trophy is pretty cool, too… This is not the first time I have participated in such competitions. I entered God of Small Affairs into a similar competition but for fantasy, SPFBO. It earned a semi-finalist status: So here’s hoping for another success! In the meantime, writers that are…

When do we get our lives back?

Prehistoric Cave Art in France

It is less than 600 hours until the 2020 elections. The last four years (longer, really, due to all of the campaigning for the 2016 elections) have been exhausting. If ever the world needed a lesson about the curse of “may you live in interesting times,” we got it these past years. The pandemic, the economy, the ugly politics all combined to make it so difficult to actually do the things we love to do. The outside world takes so much emotional, intellectual, and physical energy, that there is very little left for creative life, not to mention family and friends (whom we don’t get to see in person until next summer if we are lucky). But it’s important to stay productive. It is important to follow one’s passions, whatever they are. For humans, mere survival has never been enough. We’ve been crawling into the deepest caves to leave imprints of our imagination for posterity for many many thousands of years. Humans are born to create wonders. Here’s an example from almost 30,000 years ago and a mile deep into a French mountain: Clearly, people told stories to each other for millennia and found imaginative ways of saving them for…

Stories in the Age of Pandemic

Mistress of the Mirror

I moved from New York to California in 1989, the year the Bay Bridge collapsed due to a powerful earthquake, the year all those people died, the year I was run over by a car while crossing the street, the year I was supposed to have gotten married but learned that my fiancé was cheating on me with my best friend. Those were just the highlights, there was much more insane stuff that happened but if I wrote it down, no one would believe it to be a true story. My life, that year, was an overwrought soap opera. It was my year of emotional pandemic. But it got better. I learned to walk again. I got my doctorate. I met the love of my life. I had two amazing kids. And now I even get to imagine whole universes in my head. I live a pretty amazing life. I’m very lucky. But it was a journey. 1989 was my year of living dangerously — I read every doomsday apocalyptic dystopian novel I could get my hands on. Literature saved my life, literally! If not for the ability to escape into another world, into another life, I would have not…

Love in the Virtual Worlds

If men were portrayed as women

Happy Valentine’s Day! In honor of this special holiday, I wanted to say something about love and women’s power. My first novel was “Suddenly, Paris” — a story of true love in many worlds. I wanted to write a science fiction romance. But not a gooey mush of a thing, but a story where the female lead was smart and abled and powerful…and flawed. And I wanted to embed the romance in a real (albeit far fetched) science, computer science, in this case. I ultimately wrote the book with my husband and it won numerous awards including being placed on the Long List for The James Tiptree Jr. Awards in 2016. (The free ebooks link below has this book.)   I started writing this story at the height of the Twilight craze. I saw girls in sixth grade who have never read a book in their lives hold this one and read it in their spare time! What was it about Twilight that grabbed hold of the zeitgeist of that time? I read all those books too and I really liked them…and not. So I wanted to analyze the attraction they held for women of all ages. So what was it? 1. No…